Four times Arkansas and Florida have played this season. The Gators own two wins. The Razorbacks own two wins. But the fifth game Friday between the two isn’t as simple as win-the-series and advance. Arkansas actually has a leg up on Florida.
The game Friday night at the College World Series looms as something of a play-in game for the national title. If the Diamond Hogs beat Florida for a third time this season, Arkansas books a spot in the best-of-3 championship. Even if Arkansas loses to Florida for a third time this season, the Diamond Hogs get another shot Saturday in a win-or-go-home game.
Two chances are preferable for any team, but Dave Van Horn’s team would just as soon get it done Friday night.
Arkansas hasn’t played for a national title under its current coach. This is the fifth trip Van Horn has made to Omaha, Neb., for the CWS with the Razorbacks, but this matches the team’s deepest run in the competition during his tenure. The last time they started the College World Series 2-0, needing just one win to reach the championship series, South Carolina rallied to take two in a row and send the Diamond Hogs back to Fayetteville in 2012.
It will be up to Isaiah Campbell to help Arkansas avoid such a result this time. The big right-hander is scheduled to take the hill Friday night. Once a projected first- or second-round pick, Campbell’s inconsistencies and previous injury issues saw him slide into the 24th round in the MLB draft in early June. In his last start against Florida, the Gators chased him after he faced 11 batters and recorded just three outs. Florida won, 17-2.
That was in March. Arkansas has been the better team since. Yes, even better than the No. 1 team in the nation. The Razorbacks lineup has become more dangerous since the NCAA Tournament began. Arkansas is averaging 8.75 runs in its eight tourney games. Even if Campbell struggles, as long as it isn’t epic, the Diamond Hogs have the tools to rally, in theory.
Arkansas baseball vs. Florida game information
Date/time: Friday, June 22 — 7 p.m. CT
How can I watch?
The game will be televised on the ESPN family of networks.
Who is calling the Arkansas games?
Phil Elson and Bubba Carpenter will provide the radio broadcasts on the Razorback Sports Network from IMG.
If Arkansas wins, the Razorbacks are in the national title series. If Arkansas loses, the Hogs get another shot at the Gators on Saturday.